I took out a loan with Moneybarn to buy my car, and pay back about £200 per month.

Last week, enforcement agents turned up and tried to seize the car. This resulted in a confrontation which lasted four hours, as I sat in the car and refused to get out.

Moneybarn says I have missed two payments and that was why it tried to take the car – but my online banking shows all of them have been made in full and on time. 

The company has now blocked access to my online account and terminated my lease agreement. I was told at one point that it wouldn’t investigate further unless I made an £800 payment off my balance.

I’ve resorted to hiding the car to prevent it being seized. Can you help? C.B, Cambs

Car catastrophe: Our reader had recovery agents turn up at home and try to take her vehicle – even though her records show all of the loan payments had been made (stock image) 

Helen Crane of This is Money replies: I’m sorry to hear you were forced to stage a  sit-in in your car to avoid it being taken, which must have been a terrifying experience. 

You are a young mother living in a rural area and told me you can’t do without a car, as you need it to get to work and to take your children to school.

Moneybarn specialises in giving car loans to those with poor credit, and claims one in five adults who have an adverse credit history and need a vehicle use its services. 

The APR on its car loans can be as high as 49.9 per cent. 

It is owned by Vanquis Banking Group, formerly known as Provident Financial. 

The same outfit used to run door-to-door lending business The Provident, which was known for calling at homes in poorer areas to arrange cash loans – and charging painfully high interest rates. 

That arm of the business closed in 2021, dogged by rising complaints and an investigation from the Financial Conduct Authority.


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Moneybarn, too, has faced scrutiny over its treatment of customers. 

In 2020 it was fined £2.77million by the regulator after it failed to treat some of them fairly when they fell behind on payments. 

At the same time it voluntarily paid out £30million to those affected. 

Putting past transgressions aside, the firm is in the business of handing out secured loans. 

While this might not be a particularly cuddly business model, that means it is perfectly entitled to seize its customers’ vehicles if they stop making their loan repayments.

But you say that you have made payments without fail since you took on the credit agreement last June. You’ve also sent me screen shots from your banking app which seem to prove this.

You told me you also showed the enforcement agents who tried to take your car this evidence, but as they arrived on the day your direct debit to Moneybarn was due to go out and it had not left your account yet, they continued their attempt to seize it.

This was despite the fact you had money in your account to cover the £200 instalment.

Whether or not you had missed payments, I think making you pay £800 before it would look into the problem further, as you say happened at one stage, is disgraceful sharp practice.

Loan deal: C.B pays around £200 per month off her car, which is vital for her everyday life

Loan deal: C.B pays around £200 per month off her car, which is vital for her everyday life

I contacted Moneybarn and shortly after, the company told you collection activity would be put on hold for one month while it looked into the matter – without you having to pay any extra money. 

Following that investigation, I’m pleased to say your contract and account have now been re-activated and your payments resumed. You will be able to keep the car which is so vital to your everyday life. 

So what was the problem? 

Moneybarn told me it was ‘genuinely sorry’ to hear about the attempted repossession and apologised for the distress this caused you. 

However, it said that the root was that two months’ worth of payments had not in fact been made – despite them appearing as if they had on your banking app, which is why you were unaware. 

The transactions hadn’t gone through, but this wasn’t reflected in your app so you didn’t notice. 

Vanquis also said that the repossession of the car was undertaken as a ‘last resort’ after it made several attempts to contact you about the missing payments, to which it claims you did not respond.

It added that your personal circumstances had changed since you took out the finance agreement, and that you only made it aware of this when the car was being repossessed.

A spokesman said: ‘Based on the client information we had at the time, we acted properly and followed the correct process. 

‘Upon the receipt of new information, after This is Money contacted us, we undertook a full investigation into the missed payments with [the customer] and asked for evidence of the payments she believed had been made.

‘Whilst we did not receive this evidence, through discussions with [C.B] we came to an understanding that the payments in questions had not been made and unfortunately [she] was unaware of this due to the way in which her bank notified her of such events.’

Result: After we intervened, the required information was provided and C.B is now able to keep the car - which she relies on to ferry her children to and from school (stock image)

Result: After we intervened, the required information was provided and C.B is now able to keep the car – which she relies on to ferry her children to and from school (stock image)

The statement continued: ‘Due to [C.B’s] personal circumstances we agreed we would cease all recovery activity and rescind the termination of her agreement. 

‘We subsequently completed an affordability assessment with [her] and agreed a suitable payment arrangement with her to pay off her arrears.’

‘We are taking all necessary steps to support [C.B] now we have this new information, and we will ensure she continues to have access to the vehicle moving forward.’ 

It didn’t comment on why it requested an £800 payment before it would investigate. However, other customers on online forums have said that the company asked them to do this before it would put in place a consent order. 

This is a legal order, signed off by a court, which puts in place a payment plan to clear a debt.  

While payments had been missed, it was an innocent mistake on your part and I think Moneybarn’s response was extremely heavy-handed.

Your story of a four-hour tussle with recovery agents outside your home is the stuff of nightmares, and in my opinion no firm should be treating its customers that way. 

You told me you won’t be taking out another agreement with Moneybarn for this reason. 

However, your story does highlight that it is important to keep lenders abreast of any changes in your financial circumstances, even if you are still able to pay – and to make sure you engage with any letters or emails they send you. 

If you had realised that your payments weren’t getting through earlier this sorry episode could have been avoided.  


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